By Blake Daly, FC 17 Syracuse
One of the great things about the FrancisCorps program so far has been experiencing the Advent season with my community. Five individuals, all with different ideas of what makes Christmas special to them, living in the same house. Each one of us with different family traditions, meals, songs and everything in-between, from when is an appropriate time to start listening to Christmas music (apparently for some it is November 15th) to whether or not we should get a ‘real’ Christmas tree or use the artificial tree in the closet. These traditions are important and are what make Christmas meaningful for so many of us. They are amazing reminders of home and are difficult to let go of.
While these differences could be overwhelming and stressful for some, we were able to laugh at our differences and see Christmas traditions from another side. As a new family and community of believers, we have been able to try out each others’ traditions and share the best from each of our families. Getting to share the Advent season in a Christian community has been an enlightening experience and has made our traditions seem funny and manageable all because Christ has been at the centre of our hearts and minds. This focus on Christ has made all of the difference.
Along with our own traditions at home, Christmas has made me realize that we have been blessed with being welcomed into a number of different communities throughout Syracuse. This became evident when we were sending out the Christmas cards that we made to all of those that we have met so far. The number of different communities in Syracuse and the quality of the friendships that I have formed with all of these groups has been absolutely amazing.
From our friends serving in the Jesuit Volunteer Program and the Jesuit Novices up at LeMoyne who know how to have a good time and help keep our mission youthful and optimistic. To the number of parents in the community who bring us desserts and motherly check-ins whenever they have a chance offering us a constant reminder of our parents at home. To all of our co-workers who keep us focused on our mission while guiding us in our professional lives and also all of those that we serve who allow us into their lives on a daily basis. To the Sisters of St. Francis who are models of Christ’s love, living out their faith as active neighbors always encouraging and moving us forward. And of course the Friars who have literally taken us into their home and who constantly bring laughter and joy wherever they go. All of these communities have completely blown my mind and have filled me with confidence for the future of the Church.
Spending the Advent season within our many new communities has truly opened my eyes to the real meaning of Christmas. New family and friends coming together with all of their past traditions and ideas of how to celebrate these holidays, renewed and changed by the child who is born into our midst and into our community.